|Woman at the Well - Rome Catacombs|
Most Christians are fully aware of the record of Jesus' interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar, recorded in John's gospel, chapter 4. As I was reading this again, only God knows how many times, it occurred to me that Jesus' words to her are some of the most gracious in the Gospels. You will remember that He went to Sychar, Samaria intentionally, vs. 4 says He "needed" to go there. While there, Jesus went and sat by the well. Soon a woman from the city came to draw water. Jesus gracefully interacted with her to the point that He revealed to her things that nobody would have known unless they knew here well, such as a family member or close friend. As the story goes, she realized He must be the Messiah and she went to the city, told the news, and they all came out to see Him, then asked Him to stay in their city for a couple of days, which He did.
A simple lesson:
There were many years of animosity between the Jews and Samaritans. But God is not impartial, and His love extends to all people groups. He must be grieved a lot at our petty differences in these areas. Although today, these petty differences many have made out to be "not so petty," considering the foolish racial strivings that abound. But I digress. There was no racial striving in this experience. Jesus loved this woman as much as He loves all people, and He wanted to make sure she knew this.
Something to Consider:
What struck me during my last reading was the words He said to her in vs. 10. He had asked her for a drink, vs. 7, and this puzzled her considering He was noticeably Jewish and she was a Samaritan--He was male, and she was female. She called Him on it by questioning Him about this in vs. 9, "Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, 'How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?' For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans." Jesus did not answer her question in direct response, but instead He answered by showing her God's love. In vs 11, He makes a statement that we would all do well to heed, especially when we hear someone being judgmental toward those whom we believe are worthy of salvation. We need to realize, no one in God's eyes, is beyond His ability to bring the blessedness of salvation.
He states to her,
"If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."
This is very significant. If you continue to read the story, you find a little later that Jesus asks her to go get her husband and ask him to come, (vs. 16). She then responds with "I have no husband," to which Jesus replies, "you are correct for you have had five and the one you have now is not your husband," (vss. 17-18). The point, Jesus knew all about this woman and her sordid marital past, which is precisely why He omnisciently chose to come give her a visit. She needed salvation. Currently, she was living with a man and not formally married by law. It is important to understand that Jesus was not condoning multiple marriages (see Deut. 24:1-4; Matt. 19:3-9), but neither was He condemning her because of her current and past situation. She was now living with a man. She confessed this, which is the first step in recognizing our sinfulness. She knew she was living in sin and knowing the laws of marriage and what constituted fornication (sex outside of marriage), and knowing that Jesus was Jewish, she truthfully stated as much. Jesus commended her for telling the truth.
But even though Jesus knew these things about her, He still extends the offer of eternal life.
Living water is an expression John uses concerning the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which is typical to all true believers. D. A. Carson states, "In John’s Gospel there are passages where Jesus is the living water as he is the bread from heaven (John 6:35), and other passages where he gives the living water to believers. In this chapter, the water is the satisfying eternal life mediated by the Spirit that only Jesus, the Messiah and Savior of the world, can provide."* When Jesus said that if she had asked He would have given her living water, He was telling her that He was the fountain of life. Because she thought He was referring to literal water, He explained to her that whoever drank of the water He referred to would inherit eternal life, (vs.13).
I love this story in so many ways. But it really drives home the point that there is no one that is beyond the reach of our God. His desire is that all would come to Him, being sincere and truthful, and upon a sincere confession of faith, He will impart the living water (Holy Spirit) who is the believers guarantee of eternal life, (2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5; Eph. 1:14).
As believers, let us be rid of the robe of an unforgiving judge and let us dawn the robe of Christ's righteousness, which compels us to love all others, regardless, with the same love with which He has loved and saved us.
* D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), 219.